Sophocles’ trilogy of Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, and Antigone is a powerful, tragic tale that examines the nature of human guilt, fate and punishment. Creon, Oedipus’ uncle and brother-in-law, is the story’s most dynamic character. His character experiences a drastic metamorphosis through the span of the three dramas. Creon’s vision of a monarch’s proper role, his concept of and respect for justice, as well as his respect for the design evolve considerably by the trilogy’s tragic conclusion.
In Oedipus the King (OK) , the audience is introduced to a Creon who seems to put loyalty to the king above all. He sympathizes with the tragic plight of King Oedipus and asserts no apparent ambition himself. His attitude toward the king is one of yielding and fulfilling reverence. Creon’s notion of justice in OK stems directly from the divine. That which the gods have decreed must become law. It pains Creon to have Oedipus exiled, but he must do so as the gods have willed it. Creon’s respect for divinity and prophecy seems to be his defining trait in OK. His attitude is one of unquestioning reverence.
In Oedipus at Colonus (OC), one sees the beginning of Creon’s decline. Creon has now come to occupy the throne that once belonged to Oedipus. It soon becomes apparent that his vision of the proper role of a king has changed to accommodate his new-found position. The emphasis shifts from that of a king who must rule wisely to one who must rule unyieldingly. The kingship becomes a selfserving instrument for Creon in his attempt to secure the return of Oedipus and the good fortune prophesied to accompany him. Creon’s notion of justice is severely distorted in OC. He becomes monomaniacal – conducting his affairs with tyranny and belligerence. For example, he threatens to harm Oedipus’ daughters if the blind beggar does not return to Thebes. His view of rightness and fairness is no longer in line with that of his subjects.
In OC, Creon still retains some respect for divine prophecies. These have after all motivated his desire to return Oedipus to Thebes. Antigone reveals the ultimate extent to which Creon’s character deteriorates. His transformation completes itself; he has become an unreasonable tyrant. Creon can no longer be called a king. He has become a despot.
The True Tragic Hero of Sophocles’ Antigone
Antigone: The True Tragic Hero
Antigone, is the drama written by Sohpocles. There is still a great debate on who is the true tragic hero in Sophocles’ Antigone, Creon or Antigone. Many people believes that it must be Antigone, herself. This is because Antigone is an outstanding example of someone who did what she thought was right, while she was among fools, many hardships, and people who were discouragingly uncourageous. When the king Creon ordered that the body of Polyneices, Antigone’s brother, be left to rot unburied because he had died as a traitor, she tried to buried him even she knew that she would be punished. She believed that a dead person’s soul could not rest if that person’s body was not buried so she chooses to challenge a powerful Creon, the king of Thebes in order to let her brother rest peacefully. This presents a huge problem for Antigone; she feels she must obey the laws of the gods and bury her brother, but the penalty would be earthly death. To me, Antigone is a hero, what she did for her brother was very respectful, not many could have the strength to do so in the same situation. However, I believe the true tragic hero in Sophocles’ Antigone is Creon, not Antigone. Creon, as king of Thebes, is at the top of the social ladder. Yet, not only is he king, he is also human and possesses frailties, which qualify him to make serious mistakes, and he possesses talents, which allow him also to excel. Hence, Creon is neither overly good nor bad. Appropriately, Creon’s station as king place shim in a position of great power, influence and responsibility. The extent of this power was quite evident when he sentenced Antigone to death for disobeying his proclamation. Creon’s tragic flaw was his hubris or his pride and arrogance in the face of divine powers. His downfall began when he denied the basic divine right of burial to Polyneices and was cemented when he condemned Antigone for her opposition to his law. When one closely examines Antigone’s reasons for burying her brother, it becomes clear that she was simply demonstrating her love, honor, and loyalty to her family. However, the reason that Creon is angered is that he feels injured and insulted that Antigone flagrantly and publicly disobeyed him.